Celebrate Medicare’s birthday by covering everyone By F. Douglas Stephenson, L.C.S.W., B.C.D.
This month marks Medicare’s 53rd birthday. In July 1965, Congress enacted Medicare to provide health insurance to people ages 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. In the years since, Medicare has become proof that public, universal health coverage is superior to private insurance in every way. Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance and is administered at a cost of 3 percent to 4 percent, as opposed to private, for-profit health insurance, which has administrative costs above 15 percent. Medicare’s costs have risen more slowly than those of private health insurance. Medicare provides better access to care, better financial protection and higher patient satisfaction. Although many have negative feelings toward government, and examples of government inefficiency and incompetence abound, the record of private health insurers is far worse. Dozens of financial profiteering scandals have wracked private insurers and HMOs in recent years. To continue our progress, it’s time to upgrade Medicare by establishing a 21st century “Medicare for All” health insurance system that covers all age groups, cradle to grave. Newborns will leave the hospital with their new Medicare card, and drop it off years later at
life’s end. A bill now filed in Congress, H.R. 676, covers all medically necessary services, including primary care, medically approved diet and nutrition services, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, long-term care, palliative care, mental health services, dentistry, eye care and substance abuse treatment. Patients have their choice of physicians and other providers, hospitals and clinics. Co-pays and deductibles paid at health professionals’ offices are ended because payment for health insurance is fully prepaid directly into Medicare, much like Social Security, and covered at first dollar amounts. This means the obsolete 80 percent/20 percent payment split between private health insurance companies and Medicare is eliminated, with Medicare for All covering 100 percent. All citizens are guaranteed access to decent health care while achieving significant overall savings compared to our existing system by lowering administrative costs, controlling the prices of prescription drugs and fees for physicians and other health-care professionals and hospitals, reducing unnecessary treatments and expanding preventive care. Good health care would be established as a basic human right, as in almost all other
advanced out-of-pocket expenses for care. countries. The vast majority of U.S. Nobody households — one study says 95 would percent —would come out have to forego needed financially ahead. The system treatments because they didn’t would reap savings by dealing have insurance or they couldn’t with drug and medical supply afford high insurance premiums companies for lower prices. and co-pays. More than two dozen Nobody would have to fear a independent analyses of federal financial disaster because they and state single-payer legislation faced a health care crisis in their by agencies such as the family. Virtually all families Congressional Budget Office, would end up financially better the General Accountability off and most businesses would Office, the Lewin Group and also experience cost savings Mathematica Policy Research compared to what they pay now Group have found that the to cover their employees. administrative savings and other We finance our new Medicare efficiencies of a single-payer for All by eliminating program would provide more profiteering by the private health than enough resources to insurance industry and slashing provide first-dollar coverage to the system-wide administrative everyone in the country with no waste they generate, with a increase in overall U.S. health single streamlined, nonprofit spending. public payer health insurance A majority of Americans system. Such savings, estimated support Medicare and expansion in 2017 to be about $500 billion of this program to provide health annually, would be redirected to insurance for all. Write to your patient care. senators and representatives and Existing tax revenue would let them know how you feel fund much of the system. about expanding Medicare. Ask According to a 2016 study in the them to improve and strengthen American Journal of Public Medicare with Medicare for All, Health, tax-funded expenditures H.R. 676. already account for about twoBy making health insurance thirds of U.S. health spending. available to all age groups, we That revenue would be retained can enjoy and celebrate and supplemented by modest Medicare’s 53rd birthday with progressive taxes based on the assurance that this lifeability to pay, taxes that would saving health insurance program typically be fully offset by will continue. ending today’s very high F. Douglas Stephenson is a premiums paid to the for-profit retired clinical social work private insurance industry and psychotherapist.
Action Alert #102 – The Perfect Time to Express Our Outrage! The House of Representatives is out of session for all of August and the Senate will be out at least part of that time. Lots of campaigning is going on back in home districts. Needed Action: Pick your favorite Outrage/s from the list below, and stand up at rallies,
Social Security Fairness Repeal the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision
buttonhole your representatives and senators as they are shaking hands, or meet them in their offices. Share your story with them, even if they have signed onto the current bills: HR 1205
Check on the names with these links:
H.R.1205 – Social Security in the House has 187 signatures, Fairness Act of 2017 including 58 Republicans; S915 S.915 – Social Security in the Senate has 25 signatures, Fairness Act of 2017 4 Republicans. We need everyone to ….Read More understand our plight!
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